'Operation Good Cheer' has granted children's holiday wishes for 40 years

The Jackson community will share in the celebration of "Operation Good Cheer," which has helped grant holiday wishes for children throughout Michigan for 40 years.

Operation Good Cheer is an annual, all volunteer, Christmas gift-giving program of Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc.

All of the recipients involved in the program currently live in foster care, group homes or residential treatment facilities after being removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.

Family Service and Children's Aid is teaming up with Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. and other social service agencies across Michigan to share in creating Christmas joy for everyone in the program.

Each child in the program creates a "Wish List" with six items they want for Christmas; donors then purchase and wrap gifts from their list.

Gifts are then taken to drop-off locations to await transportation to Oakland County Airport.

The gifts will be collected from 38 pick-up locations via donated ground transportation on December 2, coordinated by Mike Pipia of Guardian Industries.

They will continue their journey to the airport for distribution flights and local ground transport on December 3.

All distribution flights and local ground transport will originate from Oakland County International Airport, where more than 13,000 gifts will be gathered for sorting and loading at the host hanger, graciously provided by Pentastar Aviation.

Hundreds of volunteers will be on-hand at the airport throughout the two-day period to assist with the distribution effort.

Through the "Spirit of Good Cheer" flight, participating local social service agencies will greet flights at 18 airports and various ground destinations where they will transfer the gifts for final distribution to children served by the agencies.

Through the efforts of Jerry Drew, air traffic controller at Oakland County International Airport, and ground transportation by Mike Pipia, gifts will be distributed to agencies so the 4,589 children and youth sponsored by Operation Good Cheer this year will receive their gifts before Christmas.

"We are thrilled to be part of this special event which helps foster children believe that Santa can find them no matter where they are," said Judy Jove, executive director of Family Service and Children's Aid.

"Family Service and Children's Aid is dedicated to making Christmas a little brighter for the children and adults taking part in this year's event. We believe in the spirit of the holiday and the generosity of the hundreds of people who donate their time and money to Operation Good Cheer," she added.

Local social service agencies taking part in Operation Good Cheer include: Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc., and their member agencies: Child and Family Services of the Upper Peninsula (Marquette); Child and Family Charities (Lansing); Family Counseling and Children's Services (Adrian); and Family Service and Children's Aid (Jackson).

Other agencies taking part include: Alcona/Alpena/Montmorency Department of Human Services (Alpena); Alternatives for Children and Families (Burton); Berrien County Department of Human Services (Benton Harbor); Bethany Christian Services (Holland, Kalamazoo); Blue Water Developmental Housing (Marysville); Catholic Charities of Michigan (Grand Rapids); Catholic Charities of West Michigan- Lakeshore (Muskegon); Catholic Charities of Lenawee County (Adrian); Christ Child House (Detroit); Crossroads for Youth (Oxford); Eagle Village (Hersey); Ennis Center for Children (Detroit, Flint , Pontiac, Port Huron); Fostering Futures (Ypsilanti); Girlstown Foundation (Belleville); Holy Cross Children's Services (Alpena, Clinton, Bedford, Flint, Kalamazoo, Saginaw, Traverse City); I.M.P.A.C.T. (Port Huron); Lenawee County Department of Human Services (Adrian); Lutheran Social Services of Michigan (Detroit, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing); Methodist Children's Home (Redford); Monroe County Department of Human Resources (Monroe); Spaulding for Children (Southfield); Spectrum Child and Family Services (Southfield); Teaching Family Homes of Upper Michigan (Marquette); The Children's Center of Wayne County (Detroit); Upper Peninsula Family Solutions (Marquette); Vista Maria (Dearborn Heights); Wolverine Human Services, North Region (Vassar); and Wolverine Human Services, South Region (Detroit).

Airports and respective receiving areas include: Sawyer International-Boreal Aviation; Traverse City- Harbor Air; Alpena County Regional- Terminal; Tulip City-Terminal; Gerald R. Ford International- Northern Air; Muskegon County-Executive Air Transport; Kalamazoo/Battle Creek International- Duncan Aviation; Roben-Hood- Terminal; MBS International- Mid-Michigan Air Center; Lenawee County-Wings of Lenawee; Jackson County-Reynolds Field- Terminal; Barstow- Terminal; St. Clair County International- Terminal; Willow Run- Jet Center Lounge; Flint Bishop- AL Flight; Capital Region Airport Authority-AV Flight; Southwest Michigan Regional Airport- Terminal; and Monroe Custer- Terminal.

For more information about Operation Good Cheer or how to get involved, contact Child and Family Services of Michigan, Inc. at (517) 349-6226.

Published: Thu, Dec 1, 2011